In Defense of Father Michael Pfleger

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 1, 2008 | Categories: Politics

On Friday Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George sharply critized the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabrina’s Church for launching a “personal attack” on Hillary Clinton from the pulpit of Barack Obama’s former Chicago

“While a priest must speak to political issues that are also moral, he may not endorse candidates nor engage in partisan campaigning,” Cardinal George said. “Racial isues are both political and moral and are also highly charged. Words can be differently interpreted, but Father Pfleger’s remarks about Sen. Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply.” George concluded: “To avoid months of turmoil inthe church, Father Pfleger has promised me that he will not enter into campaigning, will not publicly mention any candidate by name and will abide by the discipline common to all Catholic priests.”

Cardinal George is quite right that the church should stay out of politics. But we don’t. Some bishops deny the sacrament of communion to Catholic politicians because they support same-sex marriage  or  women’s reproductive rights.  Why do some bishops and priests lend their pulpit in  support of Republican candidates and administration by focusing on abortion and gay marriage, instead forcefully demanding good  health care  and education for working people and the poor, economic justice for immigrants,  and an end to the thousands of lives and billions of dollars lost in a failed Middle East foreign  policy?

The Cardinal’s rebuke comes after Pfleger’s  ridicule of Clinton was captured on video and circulated on You Tube.   Pfleger made the remarks as a guest  preacher at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the home of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  

In his Sunday sermon, Pfleger mocked Clinton for shedding tears on the campaign trail before her win in the New Hampshire primary. “I really believe that she just always thought, ‘This is mine! I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white, and this is mine! I just gotta get up and step into the plate.’ And then out of nowhere came Barack Obama, and she said, ‘Oh, I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show!'”he said.

Yeah, he is pretty blunt and fiery.   He spoke with  language, gestures and a preaching style the folks in the pews at Trinity and St. Sabrina’s may expect and appreciate, but other Christians would find outrageous or upsetting. Liberation theology in America would have that effect on most wealthy, middle class and upper middle class white Christians.

Pfleger had some pretty tough things to say about “white privilege” and economics. Poking fun at Hillary Clinton’s frustration was simply an example of when entitlement didn’t win out.  

I don’t agree with every word he says but I think Fr. Pfleger is a stand up guy.

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